An Iranian official has said that people killed in Mahshahr in Khuzestan province during recent protests had been armed and were "trying to destroy the country's main energy transmission pipelines.” 

Despite saying that the intelligence, security and judicial authorities know "exactly" who and how many were killed in the city, which is an important hub for the country’s petrochemical industry, Member of Parliament Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi did not disclose the figures to the public. 

IranWire and other media have reported that security forces opened fire on unarmed protesters in the city. According to one eyewitness, “Troop carriers and Toyotas equipped with heavy machine guns were deployed in the area. And it was with these machine guns and armed drones that [the Guards] shot at people and protesters.”

Although Ghazizadeh Hashemi was clear in his assessment that protesters were armed, he also described the National Security Council’s handling of the unrest as "very bad."

The National Security Council, chaired by Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, was responsible for dealing with the protests in November 2019, which started after a steep and unexpected rise in gas prices, and had the authority to order the violent crackdown.

IranWire has verified that at least 160 people were killed during the protests, which took place in around 700 cities in towns across the country, but Amnesty International says the death toll is at least 208.

Significant numbers of people are reported to have been killed during protests in Mahshahr, but the Islamic Republic authorities have so far been unwilling to publish the exact number of those killed.

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